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Child Well-Being Indicators From the SIPP

Written by:
Working Paper Number POP-WP024


The views expressed in this paper are solely attributable to the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the United States Bureau of the Census.

This poster was originally presented at the Annual Meeting of the Population Association of America (PAA) Chicago, IL, April 1998.



The SIPP provides a large, nationally representative sample that allows linking income recipiency, labor force participation, and participation in government assistance programs with indicators of child well-being.

The Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), collected in the Fall of 1994, provides analysis of child well-being in four areas:  

1) Early childhood experiences
    - ever in child care arrangement
    - age at first child care arrangement
    - hours in first child care arrangement

3) School-age enrichment activities
     - participation in sports
     - membership in clubs
     - takes lessons

2) Parent - child interaction
     - any TV rules
     - parent reads to child (0-5)
     - outings with child

4) Children's academic experience
     - ever changed schools
     - ever repeated a grade
     - "on-track" academically

The Survey: The SIPP provides the baseline for a longitudinal analysis of the changes in children's well-being with respect to the Welfare Reform and Work Responsibility Act of 1996, since households from the Fall 1994 SIPP are followed in the Survey of Program Dynamics (SPD).

Tabulations represent percentages of valid cases.


  • Families with higher incomes are more likely to have ever used a child care arrangment on a regular basis
  • 3-5 year old children of parents with a high school diploma or a higher education level start regular child care at earlier ages
  • 3-5 year olds spend more hours per week in child care if they are children of single parents who work or of dual earner married couples.



  • 3-5 year olds living above the poverty level are read to more often by their parents than are children below the poverty level (at least seven times per week)
  • 6-11 year old children are most likely to have TV rules about the number of hours per day they can watch television.
  • Black children are most likely to have television rules.


Enrichment activities in the SIPP include participatino in clubs, sports, and lessons.

  • Children living in poverty are less likely to participate in clubs, sports, and lessons.
  • Those in families with income at 200 percent and above the poverty level are twice as likely as those in families with income less than the poverty level to participate in school and enrichment activities.
  • Children are less likely to participate in clubs, sports, and lessons when parents have a low opinion of their neighborhood.


  • Poor children are more likely to have ever changed schools.
  • Children with parents who rent their homes are more likely to have ever changed schools than children with parents who own their homes.
  • Children from the South are most likely to have ever repeated a grade, compared to children from the North, East, and West.
  • Children living in suburban areas are least likely to have repeated a grade.

Children are "on-track" academically when they are enrolled at or above the modal grade for their age.

  • Among children ages 12-17, those with married, working parents are most likely to be "on-track."

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Page Last Revised - January 3, 2023
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